Back in May, 2014 Google released an update to their search algorithm, called Panda 4.0. According to SearchEngineLand, “Google’s Panda algorithm is designed to prevent sites with poor quality content from working their way into Google’s top search results.”
I’ve been doing a lot of reading and researching on the update (and its impact on content marketing) for our clients, and while there are many different opinions on how to best handle the changes to how Google evaluates your site, everyone seems to agree on one thing: if you are creating content that is engaging and that people actually read, you will do well on Google and with SEO.
As if that was something that was really easy to do.
Throw a rock at a content marketing website or blog, and you will hit an article about the importance of telling a story. The thing that you really have to remember, however, is that the story that you want to tell isn’t necessarily always the story that your buyer wants to hear. For example, the fact that you just released a new product is not a “story” that most of your customers are going to be interested in … but I would bet that it’s the story your product marketing team is pushing you to tell. The problem is that product-centric white papers, webinars, press releases and articles simply are not that interesting to the buyer … and here’s the thing … Google can tell whether or not the audience is engaged by your story, and it will impact your SEO.
With everyone (and their sister) using Google Analytics, and engagement metrics from all those sites helping Google understand and identify the content that people are actually reading, it makes sense that this type of information will help the search engine make recommendations based on what people actually like. So how should this influence your content marketing strategy?
Well for one thing, you can’t forget that some of the most important content that you’re going to be creating isn’t going to be meant for a large audience. It should be geared towards a very specific audience at a very specific moment in time, and those are the people that are going to search for and find your content. They will actually read it, rather than just bounce off the page after a few seconds. They will be engaged by your content, and Google will notice that – as well as when they share it — which will naturally and organically help your SEO.
Trying to game the system? It simply isn’t enough to stuff your content full of keywords, or to develop a linking scheme, or build out your page titles and metatags any longer. All are still important, but you need to be careful, because Google catches companies that try to “game” the system.
Who cares if only 100 people see it as long as they’re the right 100 people and it’s the content that they need to push them through to the next stage of the buying cycle. Don’t always just go for the big bang — go for quality content that engages the right audience. More people like them will follow, because the bottom line is that Google is getting better all the time at evaluating websites as if it were a human. The actual content on the page is now way more important than the code underneath it.
This article originally appeared on the Annuitas blog.